Why does the president pardon a turkey?

The wikipedia article is fascinating – this “ancient tradition” of pardoning a turkey actually goes back on to 1989. Everybody seems to think Hary Truman was the first to pardon a turkey, but it was actually the first president Bush.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Thanksgiving_Turkey_Presentation

Even after reading that article, though, I still don’t understand why the president pardoned a turkey. Was it supposed to show that he respected animals? (If so, why wouldn’t he just be a vegetarian?) Was it supposed to show that he didn’t want to waste food? (If so, why not donate the turkey to a hungry family instead of a petting zoo?) I’m assuming the act must have somehow been designed as a PR stunt to get more votes, but I don’t see how that works. Eating a turkey is simply not considered a bad thing by most americans.

So WHY did the president first start with the turkey pardon?

It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma:

…stuffed in a duck which is wrapped with a turkey and crammed in an ostrich…

Why? To make the headlines and look like a good guy. I can see no other reason.

It gives him a chance to play Oskar Schindler in an annual holocaust.

Most cooks try not to burn the turkey.

[moderating]
Since we already have an active thread with an almost identical title, I’m closing this one and directing folks over there.
[/moderating]

It really does help us to keep things organized if you do a quick scan of active threads–or better yet, a search–before starting a new one.